Spread Joy: Raidy Hodges, Briana Hernandez, Nick Beaudoin, and Tyler Bixby Credit: Emily Gant

When COVID-19 forced Chicago’s concert venues and DIY spaces to shutter in March 2020, the timing was especially bad for local punks Spread Joy. Because they wanted to have a tight set worked up before they played live, they put in several months of intensive rehearsal before scheduling their first gig—and then gigs stopped happening. Spread Joy still haven’t played a single live show, but instead of losing their momentum, last summer the four of them—bassist Nick Beaudoin, drummer Tyler Bixby, singer Briana Hernandez, and guitarist Raidy Hodges—spent a whirlwind two days tracking a batch of songs with Doug Malone at Jamdek Recording Studio. The resulting self-titled debut is scheduled for release via Virginia label Feel It Records on Friday, April 2, and its ten songs maintain an admirable brevity, totaling roughly 13 minutes. Spread Joy dig old postpunk and no wave—think Liliput, Suburban Lawns, and Y Pants—and you can hear it in their rushing, playful, angular music. They’ve dropped a two-for-one video for “St. Tropez/Semantic,” and a few dozen copies of the “lemon drop” vinyl edition of Spread Joy remain available via Bandcamp.

  • The combined video for the songs “St. Tropez” and “Semantic,” directed by Bárbara Baron

Last Friday, prolific pop outsider Kevin and Hell dropped Wilty Pleasures, whose groggy synths, dentist’s-waiting-room surf guitar, and skeletal, broken-sounding electronic percussion feel like the work of an indie-rock band possessed by a 60s lounge singer’s ghost. This works splendidly on the spectral romantic number “A Rose Alone,” whose keening synth melody mimics the woozy portamentos of a theremin. Los Angeles label Lolipop Records released Wilty Pleasures for the same price digitally and on cassette, so for no extra charge you can hear Kevin and Hell’s sideways jams with an apropos coating of tape hiss.

Gossip Wolf has been keen on Sam Cantor’s folk-rock outfit Minor Moon ever since they dropped An Opening in 2019. On Friday, March 26, they’ll return with their next album, Tethers, coreleased by Whatever’s Clever (from New York) and Ruination Record Co. (based in Chicago and New York). Judging from the majestic, wide-screen sound of the record’s early singles, Cantor has stepped up his game. To enrich these lush songs, Minor Moon called on an all-star cast of Chicago musicians, including Macie Stewart of Ohmme, singer-songwriter V.V. Lightbody, and NbN Trio cellist Nora Barton. The band will stream a performance from the Audiotree studios on Thursday, April 1.  v

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